Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has echoed President Muhammed Buhari’s claim that governors appropriate local government funds.
While participating in the Arise TV town hall debate on Sunday, Atiku had said that while he was vice president between 1999 and 2003 the governors opposed his decision on direct funding to the local government. The candidate put problem down to a “fundamental flaw in our legislation”.
“When I assumed office in 1999, what was handed over to me was the local government administration. When it was handed over to me, I gave instructions to the accountant general that all local government allocations should be transferred to the local governments straight. After implementing that policy for nine months, the governors protested that that was not constitutional,” he said
“So we looked at the constitution, and they said there was supposed to be a joint account at the state level where local government funds should be transferred and also the state government was supposed to put a certain percentage of their revenue into that account, and it (the local government funds) was then moved to that joint account.
“Then, the local governments started getting their funding through the state joint accounts and that is where we have problems. In that process, some state governments started taking part in the local government finances. Some said they were going to run universities with the state governments, some said local governments should contribute to certain projects in the state. At the end of the day, the funds were being depleted and the local governments were left with no funding, and in fact, it has gone to virtually nothing now.
“We must look at the laws and see how we can make these local governments independent and protect them when funds are sent from the federal government. I think there’s a major flaw in our laws regarding that.”